The African National Congress is starting its “dispute resolution process” in a bid to address the a.
Ready to roll? It's a great feeling which can only be fully appreciated by someone who has put in a year of hard, grinding work, day after day. Now the long-awaited hour has arrived when you can bid your co-workers a happy festive season, and trudge your weary way homeward.
Ahead lies a month of glorious vacation. The car has been given a check-up and received a clean bill of health. Tonight we load up. Tomorrow, bright and early, we'll hit the road. The sun will be warm on our backs, the road full of happy memories.
Ah yes, that's how it always is in our minds that first evening when the holidays seem to hold endless prospects of joyful reunions, lazy days in the sun and exciting discoveries.
The reality, experience has taught us, is somewhat different. Reality is cruel. Things will go wrong. Kids develop sudden ailments overnight. The neighbour, who was going to look after the dog, tells you that he will be going away himself. Desperate phone calls have to be made. Etc, etc. So by the time we eventually do hit the road, the sun is not warm on our backs, it's burning us to a cinder.
This is the moment when we have to pause and get our mindset right. It depends entirely on us whether our journey will be happy or harrowing. The key lies in the ability to relax and be patient. Patience is the ultimate virtue. For sure, there are going to be irritations on the road - queues at toll plazas, delays at filling stations, not to mention lunatic drivers overtaking across barrier lines, flashing rude signs at you, cutting in front of you. Don't let any of this ruffle you. Relax, you're on holiday and the journey is part of the holiday. Make the most of it. Adopt defensive driving tactics, in other words, never answer aggression with aggression. Let the world go on its crazy way and you be in your happy bubble.
Kids will often pick up on this benign and mellow mood and be surprisingly sweet and undemanding. But spare a thought for the younger ones. A long journey cooped up in the back seat can be very tiring. Keep their minds occupied. Children thrive on responsibility, so put each one in charge of a specific task. One can be the bird expert, with field guide and binoculars at hand to identify birds; another can be the mathematician and calculate fuel consumption and average speed. And the other can be a history boffin and a geology specialist. Lifelong interests are often kindled in this way. Take crayons and colouring books for the younger ones and Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit and electronic gadgets for the older ones. Remember batteries go flat, so keep paper and pens ready for when you want to fall back on good old Battleships or car cricket.
Stop at least once every two hours to stretch your legs, have a cup of coffee and give the kids a chance to get rid of pent-up energy. Check the dash gauges frequently. Have a good look at the tyres at refuelling stops, but don't be tempted to let out air. Keep the speed down, especially on wet roads or in poor visibility. Always maintain safe following distances. Don't try to compress the journey into a day-and-night run when it would be far better to break for an overnight stop and start refreshed the next morning.
These are the things we hear so often from the road safety organisations, but in a nutshell it simply boils down to being relaxed and patient. So what if you arrive a day later than originally planned? As long as you arrive safely, knowing that you have not endangered any lives on the way, and happy that your family had the opportunity to bond in a stress-free and cheerful atmosphere.
It's good to know that on a long trip, the wear in a healthy engine is practically zero, provided the engine doesn't overheat, has reasonably clean oil in it and is never asked to lug (struggle at low revs).
Here's wishing you a safe, unhurried and carefree holiday journey.